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5 Ways to Get Active With Grandkids

Exercise is a fun and healthy way to bond with children of all ages.

En español | One of the nicest things about grandchildren is their youthful exuberance. We all get an energy boost when we are around kids, and grandparents often say their grandchildren are their main motivation to stay active and fit.

See also: Make fitness a family tradition. 

Staying active and fit is beneficial to kids, too.  With childhood obesity rates at an all-time high, it's more essential than ever to keep children from being too sedentary.

Senior man crarrying granddaughter on his shoulders

Participating in a physical activity with your grandchild is a wonderful way for grandparents — and kids — to stay fit. — Norbert Schaefer/CORBIS

Here are five activities that you and your grandchildren can do that will be beneficial to both of you:

Hiking

No matter how old your grandkids are, you can hit the trails where you'll both get exercise while learning about the great outdoors. Keep it interesting for the kids by incorporating scavenger hunts (who can find a sassafras leaf, wildflower or, better yet, a certain animal's footprints. Whether you take an urban hike around the neighborhood, find a nature trail at a local park or set out on a hiking vacation, choose a path that is a bit of a challenge but not so strenuous for you or your grandchildren to diminish the fun. The American Hiking Society has family hiking resources. And don't forget to explore our amazing national and state parks.

Tai Chi

On a trip to China many years ago, I was so taken with the groups of older adults and young children practicing tai chi together in the parks. Chinese elders traditionally care for grandchildren and teach them the popular ancient activity, which was originally a defensive martial art and is now mostly used to develop physical and mental harmony. Tai chi involves a series of slow graceful moves that supposedly move energy around your body. It is a powerful multigenerational activity because it is gentle and noncompetitive. It also can be adapted to varying physical abilities. Practice tai chi indoors or outdoors, in a class or at home with a DVD or guide book.

Golf

Are you a golf nut? Why not get the grandkids out on the links? According to the U.S. Kids Golf Foundation, golf can be a lifelong sport that encourages family interaction and builds lifelong memories. Many vacation resorts offer golf lessons and activities for children. Golf courses are now developing "family courses" with two levels of additional tees that make it fun and easier for kids to participate. While a little family competition can be fun, keep in mind that you're a role model for your grandchildren. No throwing of golf clubs, please! Not ready for a golf course? Try miniature golf. Always a fun family activity, it maintains and develops eye-and-hand coordination and gets you all walking (and laughing), too.

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